Friday, April 13, 2007

Using Positive Questions to Make Positive Connections

While I was traveling last week, I picked up a book that I have had on my buy list for a few years. It is called Encyclopedia of Positive Questions - Volume One by experts in Appreciative Inquiry, Cooperrider, Whitney, Trosten-Bloom and Kaplin.

At the beginning of the book they offer these 11 ways to use positive questions.

  • Get staff meetings off to a good start
  • Coach for high performance
  • Transform "problem talk" into "possibility talk"
  • Create dialogue to foster shared meaning
  • Demonstrate positive intent and trust with customers
  • Create a learning organization
  • Build high performance teams
  • Conduct project reviews that make a difference
  • Build self-esteem
  • Plan a course of action for the future
  • Create your own interview guide

Positive questions can do all that?

Asking great questions can make a big difference to how your teams feel and perform. Here are just a few of the questions from the book. I think every manager ought to have a copy of this book.

  • Tell me about a time when compelling communication allowed you and another person to really connect and to work together exceptionally well. What was the situation? What was it about you, the other person, and the communication that made this possible?
  • Dream into the future...your organization and your community have a wonderful mutual partnership. What does this look like? What three things might have been done in order to create this partnership?
  • Tell me about a time when you were part of an exceptional cooperation with a customer or customer group. How did this happen? What made it so special? What did you learn from the experience?
  • When you reflect on your time with this organization, what is the greatest contribution it has made to you and your life?
  • Where in the organization is participatory decision-making at its best? What contributes to it? How does it work?
  • Tell me about a time that was particularly fun at work. What was the high point of this time? What made it fun?
  • When people are in leadership positions, what two or three things can they do that will help you be the best you can be?
  • If positive energy were the flame of the organization, how would you spark it? How would you fuel it to keep it burning bright?
  • What trends and changes are you seeing in the world that excite you and give you a sense of the confidence in the possibilities for the organization's future?

Cool questions and just a sampling. I like questions like these, they help expand the mind and prevent us from going to that cold, dark, cynical small place we all have in our brains (some more than others!).

If you were building the project from the ground up and resources were not a barrier, what would you do?

What's the wildest idea that just might work?

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Dear Dave,

I subscribe to "google alerts" that notify me when the words Appreciative Inquiry show up on the web. As such, I read your positive comments about our book, Encyclopedia of Positive Questions. So glad that it's been so useful to you! Several years post-publication, we appreciate feedback like yours.

If you've not already looked at it, you might also find value in Appreciative Team Building (Whitney, Trosten-Bloom, Cherney and Fry, 2003). It's in similar format (but even easier to use!), and is focused on AI with teams. If you choose to look for it, please let me / us know your experience of it.


Amanda Trosten-Bloom
Corporation for Positive Change